In a world where development is conducted on a variety of operating systems and hosted on the cloud, having a well-structured development system with integrated security is vital to ensuring that customer solutions are functioning optimally and are secure. This is achieved through DevOps.
Aptly named, DevOps is a project management framework that combines focus of development and operations. Where previously siloed roles in the development process—security, quality assurance, and software development, for example—were typically conducted independently of each other, DevOps aims to bridge the roles together so that solutions can be delivered far more efficiently. Using this kind of project management, a team can work seamlessly toward the end goal of delivering a secure and well functioning solution for a customer. Because DevOps is a continuous, always-improving cycle, creating a secure and usable product consists of several key steps. What follows is an overview of four critical components of DevOps and why they are important.
4 Critical Components Of DevOps
The first key component to “secure DevOps” methodology, is, of course, security. Sometimes developers may introduce vulnerabilities, which could result in a compromised system down the road. It also sometimes happens that developers do notice, but choose to ignore, those vulnerabilities and continue down the path of building the product without making the necessary changes. If a developer does not notice them but they exist, this still results in the possibility of a compromised system.
Considering the fact that modern DevOps systems use tools such as Jenkins, a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) tool that speeds up development and allows for faster implementation through distributed codebase in the cloud, this makes it easier for malicious actors to access said code. Whether they intend to use it for themselves, steal information from users who rely on a customer’s product, or damage the system, existing vulnerabilities give them the ability to do so.
Secure DevOps solutions give access to projects only to those who need it. (Tweet this!) For example, users who must access the code or deployment directly need to be able to log into the system. However, this type of access must be consistently monitored and audited.
As noted above, the “old” development process was quite extensive, and roles were typically conducted independently of each other. This required individually communicating with each team member, introducing the risk of miscommunication regarding changes.
Through a secure DevOps system, the product is taken on an automated journey that lays out the foundation of the product, assists in its development, and rigorously tests its quality long before it reaches the customer.
Say, for example, that a customer requests a feature enhancement that requires a code change in a piece of software. Rather than making the change and hoping for the best, the change is implemented into the code, tested, published, and deployed on a test system. If it is successful through all of these steps, it is deployed on a staging system and subjected to further integration and regression tests to ensure that existing code works with the new code. If all works as planned, it is “shipped” to the customer. If not, it goes through the entire process again until it is successful. Having this process, and having it automated, help eliminate the “old way” risks of human miscommunication.
Today, an efficient development process requires some degree of automation. Not all aspects of testing and code development necessitate human involvement. Take, for example, the processes of scanning existing code for potential vulnerabilities; testing new code with existing, merged code; and deploying the end product. Each of these steps can be fully automated to streamline the development process.
Beyond the convenience of automation, automated processes usually perform work more accurately. Automated processes save development teams time and money by finding flaws in the solution quickly and giving the team time to fix issues long before the product reaches the customer.
Even though a product may be completed and delivered, the DevOps process is far from finished. Security teams must continuously monitor the product and systems to ensure continued quality and safety for the customer. The continuous monitoring of cloud applications and environments includes monitoring for access privileges, connections to bad domains, sensitive files being modified, suspicious user behavior, and more. Cloud security monitoring tools should also provide the ability to investigate any suspicious activity quickly and easily.
Additional Resources on DevOps
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